Created in honour of MSFHR’s founding president & CEO, the Aubrey J. Tingle Prize is awarded annually to a B.C.-based clinician scientist whose work in health research is internationally recognized and has had a significant impact on advancing research – and its implementation – to improve health and the health system in B.C. and globally.
This year’s recipient, Dr. Poul Sorensen, is a molecular pathologist and cancer biologist who specializes in the genetics and biology of pediatric cancers. A leader in his field, his discoveries have changed the way researchers think about and manage cancers. He has a long and distinguished record of translating scientific discoveries into practical applications such as diagnostic tests and treatment options for both pediatric and adult cancer patients.
Among his many contributions to cancer research and treatment, Dr. Sorensen discovered the major gene fusion in Ewing sarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer often affecting children and teenagers. This became an instant diagnostic and therapeutic target and led to the discovery of many other gene fusions that drive and define other pediatric cancers. He later discovered the gene fusion in a type of soft tissue cancer most often affecting children under age one (infantile fibrosarcoma) and made the discovery that the same fusion was present in a type of breast cancer, a revelation which has had a direct impact on the development of new treatments. These were discoveries of historic significance, as this gene fusion has become one of the most exciting therapeutic targets in oncology today. Located at the BC Cancer Research Centre, Dr. Sorensen’s lab is now focusing on how tumor cells adapt to stress.
An author of more than 200 publications, Dr. Sorensen is keen on developing the next generation of researchers. He has trained over 60 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, as well as numerous research associates, staff scientists and medical fellows. In addition, he regularly contributes to textbooks and other educational materials including the chapter on the molecular pathology of pediatric cancers in the main reference text used worldwide for practicing clinicians in the field of pediatric oncology. He has also written chapters on sarcomas and breast cancer for the World Health Organization.
Dr. Sorensen holds the Asa and Kashmir Johal Endowed Chair in Childhood Cancer Research at the University of British Columbia (UBC). He is a professor of pathology at UBC and an investigator with the Michael Cuccione Childhood Cancer Research Program at BC Children's Hospital. Dr. Sorensen is a founding member of the American Association for Cancer Research’s Pediatric Cancer Working Group, and is the chair of the Translational Research Committee of the Children’s Oncology Group, the largest pediatric oncology clinical trials network in the world. He has also received the Bloom Burton Award and was elected to the fellowship of the Royal Society of Canada in 2019.
The presentation will take place on April 2 at the 22nd Annual LifeSciences BC Awards.